Imagine having to walk several miles each way to have water to drink and to use for cooking and bathing. That’s the reality for many in villages around the world, and it affects people’s health and their ability to go to school and work. All told, about two billion people do not have access to safe drinking water that has been tested for chemicals and microbes. An estimated 88 percent of childhood illnesses are related to contaminated water and poor sanitation, and about 5,000 children die every day from that and poor hygiene practices.
Almost 10 years ago our Junior Interact Club at Griffith Middle School in East Los Angeles decided they wanted to help a village in Nigeria have clean water. The kids wanted to raise funds to drill a well at the local school so that the children could go to school first, and then after school fill up their buckets with water, and bring it home to their families.
The Griffith Junior Interact Club decided to have a Penny War at their school, where kids were encouraged to bring in their pennies to donate to this project. The classroom that raised the most money had the opportunity to throw pies at the school principal. It was quite an incentive for the kids – they were able to raise close to $5,000 — just from spare change.
The East LA Rotary Club added to the fund, and then through the power of Rotary’s Matching Grant’s program, we were able to increase the fund to over $15,000. That allowed us to drill the first set of wells in Ajuwon, Nigeria. .
So far, we have drilled 5 wells in Nigeria and in Nepal, and are currently raising funds again to bring clean water to additional communities.